Summer Reading 2023
Book Recommendations by Members, Speakers, and Asia Society Global Staff
As we approach the summer season, we find ourselves craving a good book to accompany us during our leisurely moments at the lake or the beach. Once again, we reached out to our members, colleagues, speakers, and friends, seeking their valuable book recommendations.
Thanks to all contributors for the fantastic recommendations!
I loved Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor. The book is a global sensation that is already on its way to becoming a TV mini-series. On first glance, it is a modern take on a classic gangster story. But, at heart, it is a sprawling tale of power, greed, love, and capitalism run amok. It runs more than 600 pages but you'll need at most a lazy weekend to devour it all. – Recommended by Milan Vaishnav (Host of the Grand Tamasha podcast and speaker at STATE OF ASIA 2023)
Cocoon by Zhang Yueran [fiction]
Cheng Gong and Li Jiaqi go way back. Both hailing from dysfunctional families, they grew up together in a Chinese provincial capital in the 1980s. Now, many years later, the childhood friends reunite and discover how much they still have in common. Both have always been determined to follow the tracks of their grandparents’ generation to the heart of a mystery that perhaps should have stayed buried (cit. Goodreaders). – Recommended by Yan Lianke (author and speaker at Big Picture in July 2023)
Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung [fiction]
Horror/magical realism/mystery short stories collection which criticise "the real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society" (cit. Goodreads). Its both horrifying and incredibly gripping. – Recommended by Manuela Coldesina (Asia Society staff)
Das Ende ist mein Anfang by Tiziano Terzani [non-fiction, available in German and Italian]
The story of Tiziano Terzani's life, mostly spent all over Asia as a journalist/reporter. A pearl, best teacher of life and values, an alternative point of view for our society as well. Best book I read in all my life. – Recommended by Luca Marmori (Asia NEXT fellow)
Using the history of common foods and goods, Ha-Joon Chang explains the economics of industrial policy and the relationship between freedom and capitalism. Chang believes that democracy is meaningless in a capitalist economy if not everyone understands basic economics, so he’s using stories about food from around the world to make the economic theory more consumable. – Recommended by Hee-Chung Kim (Asia Society staff)
Fragile Cargo by Adam Brookes [non-fiction]
This book tells the story of the race to save the treasures of China's forbidden city all the way to the outskirts of Taipei. This is a story dear to my heart, as I myself interviewed former curator of the National Palace Museum in Taipei Nah Chi-liang back in the early 1990s. – Recommended by Philippe Le Corre (Asia Society staff)
Heart Sutra by Yan Lianke [fiction]
The book, which has been banned in mainland China, focusses on faith under state control. It explores the complex relations between the secular and the divine and its two protagonists – Buddhist nun Yahui and Daoist monk Mingzheng. Sprinkled with gentle humor, the scenes are at times extremely bizarre, and always exceptionally imaginative. Expertly translated by Carlos Rojas, this is a truly enjoyable and highly thought-provoking read. – Recommended by Madelaine Wiebalck (Asia Society staff)
Other Names for Love by Taymour Soomro [fiction]
A wonderfully accurate coming of age novel from rural Pakistan, described in retrospect by the protagonist, meanwhile living in London and looking back on his youth. – Recommended by Daniel Daeniker (Asia Society Switzerland Advisory Board Member)
Captivating account of the early to mid 2000s in Kyrgyzstan, a much needed review of troubled times in the former "Soviet backyard". – Recommended by Seraina Petersen (Gen A Alumna)
Taking Pictures, Making Pictures by Alberto Venzago [non-fiction]
Perhaps the best example of Venzago’s rare talent is his images of the Yakuza gang in Tokyo. (...) Venzago’s images of this secret world include private New Year’s Eve celebrations, Yakuza boss Masahiro Furushio’s office, and even a gang member’s hand missing a fingertip (a common gesture to request forgiveness or express submission) (cit. the publisher). – Recommended by Ramona Hagnauer (Asia Society Member)
Finished all the listed books? Find more suggestions on previous reading lists.
Share your book recommendations!
We are always eager to receive your highly appreciated book suggestions, just write us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much in advance!